• He's All Learned and Stuff

    Matt Holt dives of Gladwell's springboard to teach you more about HSA's, cost-sharing, and the conservative attack on social insurance than you ever thought you wanted to know. Read him.
  • When the First Disgruntled Caveman Killed the First Imperious Caveleader, Chavez Was There

    Most of you in blogland would argue that, considering the ethics of Robertson's call for assassination, he makes a pretty poor theologian. Well, as Jeff Dubner explains , he makes a really queer historian as well. And yes, 50% of this post was simply me desire to describe Pat Robertson as queer. BUt read the Dubner post anyway, it's really, really funny.
  • Feingold on Health Care

    I talked yesterday about how liberals are losing the essential arguments for health care in this country. The day before, I went to a forum with Russ Feingold. His speech was mainly on Iraq, but he mentioned that the top domestic concern of his constituents was health care so, when Q&A came, I asked how he'd fix it. His answer shows where we've fallen to. This is paraphrased, but accurate: I've always been for single payer. In the Senate, it was me and Paul Wellstone, we sponsored the bill. But recently, I came to the same conclusion Paul did towards the end of his life, which is that we need to establish a universal floor, but after that, give each state full autonomy over their programs. We don't need a big federal bureaucracy doing this, we need to rely, instead, on the "genius of the states" and let them experiment and decide what's best. Let's break that down a bit. He's for single payer. His alliance with Wellstone is used to give that cred. But when he gets into his actual...
  • Radio Wonders

    Last night, driving back to LA from a quick jaunt below the Orange Curtain, I decided to do as the Romans do (and as the billboards command) and listen to talk radio. First I went to 1150's Air America where Garofalo and Seder were doing the majority report. I really hate to say this, as I love Garofalo's comedy and acting, but I find her totally unlistenable on The Majority Report. She's shrill, mean to her callers (and here I'm talking the liberal ones, conservative interlopers get called "douches"), and just grates on me. On the bright side, she's well informed and good at staying on point, but I'm just not able to listen for more than ten minutes at a time. So off I go to 640, "More stimulating talk radio!" It's some white guy named Ron filling in for some white guy named Z-Man. They're bashing the Nation of Islam, which is a bit like me sticking rhetorical knives into the Ku Klux Klan, but whatever. Very good caller choice, the host is a talented talker, and the opinions are...
  • Thanks!

    Enormous thanks to the kind reader who snagged me The World's Banker from my Amazon Wish List . Not only will I be more informed on global trade, but I now know the feature works, too! And so do all of you! In any case, I really do appreciate it when folks take the time to buy me things. I try not to ask for donations on this site, largely because the world has far better causes for your money than random tips in my jar, and since I occasionally ask you to donate to those better ends, I don't feel I should be constantly playing Santa with the bell. But the Wish List is, to me, a bit different. All the books in there will make this site better, either by leaving me educated on a subject was embarrassingly ignorant on or adding more context and information to something I already know a bit about (that's why, incidentally, I put so little fiction on the list). It also allows you to be targeted, so if you like my health care work, you could get me One Nation, Uninsured , and if you wanted...
  • How Health Care Explains American Politics

    So, as promised, more on the Gladwell piece . Gladwell is not, as my previous post might have suggested, opening up a can of whoop-ass on America's health care system. Instead, he's digging into a cultural cause of our recalcitrance to move to full coverage -- the perception that the uninsured deserve what they get, and that insurance generally isn't what'll help these irresponsible souls. Gladwell calls it by its economic name, moral hazard, which is the theory that insurance changes the behavior of the uninsured. If you get all the health care you want for free, you'll use a ton of health care, much of it, according to conservatives, unnecessary. If you have to pay a significant copay, the amount you use will go down, as your bank account will feel each doctor's visit. If you are uninsured and have to pay the whole cost, you'll only go when you need it. That's all true, so far as it goes. The problem is, individuals aren't good judges of what counts as necessary care. They first cut...
  • The Times Tells All

    As for all this talk over guys getting freaked out by the delivery room view of their partner's suddenly giant, bloody vagina, I don't quite see the problem. If you're the sort of guy who thinks this'll haunt you forevermore, either stick near your wife's head so you can be with her without peering up her or stay out of the delivery room. I have to imagine that guys basically know where they'll fall on this question. Sure, some may make the wrong choice, but a bit of forethought should keep post-delivery sexual traumas from being so endemic they demand coverage in The New York Times . Or maybe we're not having a rash of shellshocked hubbies and the article is a bullshit human interest story exploiting the fears of both sexes to fill a few column inches.
  • Oil Baby

    Fareed Zakaria has a spot-on editorial today on how much tougher oil makes our foreign policy. It's almost laughable how many sore spots and tricky situations our hydrocarbon dependence has landed us in. In the American drama, oil is the screenwriter and we're the hapless dunce who keeps stumbling into his prewritten traps. It kinda sucks. But it's not hard to rationalize that oil dependence was a necessary tradeoff for our modern influence and technological achievement. That's perfectly fair. What's so strange is that now, while we're on the cusp of new technologies that could end our addiction, while we control literally thousands of advances and options that could drastically reduce our dependence, we prefer instead to wait till crisis hits, till prices jump so high that oil becomes a curse and change becomes a necessity. We're demanding that the day come when our switchover will be instant rather than gradual, and that's going to hurt . Some hyperrationalists on both sides of the...
  • Well Said

    I'll have more to say on the whole article later, but for now, this hyper-long paragraph of Malcolm Gladwell's in his New Yorker article on moral hazard is about the best indictment of our health care system that I've seen. It's large enough that I'm going to put it under the fold, but trust me, it's worth the read:
  • It Was The Christian Thing To Do

    I don't know what everybody's getting so upset at Pat Robertson for. I mean, sure, it's not exactly neighborly to call for Hugo Chavez's assassination, but neither is it necessarily un-Christian. The Bible, after all, offers no shortage of grounds on which you can put a man to death. All we need to do is catch him on one. Think he's ever masturbated? If so, Genesis 38:8 says he's finished. Exodus 12:12 lets us off him if he's ever struck another man with a deadly blow, a particularly helpful passage if we let Robertson do the deed himself with a blunt object -- they can exit stage left together. I don't know if Chavez ever hit his parents, but Exodus 21:15 finishes him if he did. Better yet, he sure seems like he was stubborn and rebellious as a kid, a juvenile heritage that we can stone him for (Deuteronomy 21:18). If Hugo's got any friends who pray to a God other than the fearsome overlord of the Bible, we can take him down for letting them live (Deuteronomy 13:6). But screw it, we...